Lessons learned from the SCORE project
A document to support outreach and education related to safer crack use
The aim of this report is to provide key findings related to the SCORE project. It is our hope that the insights that we have gained may be of benefit to others engaged in similar initiatives and to ultimately improve the health of individuals who use crack. The SCORE project (Safer Crack Outreach, Research, and Education) grew out of the vision and hard work of the Safer Crack Use Coalition of Vancouver. Before the SCORE Project was funded, this coalition devoted much energy into raising awareness regarding the insufficient resources aimed at preventing the harms related to crack use.
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The SCORE project emerged as a way to address this issue in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), specifically to facilitate a better understanding of the health concerns and service needs of people who use crack. The project ran for three years between 2005 and 2008.
The SCORE project team included both academic researchers and frontline workers associated with the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Safer Crack Use Coalition of Vancouver. Project team members consulted with women and men who use crack who participated in an advisory capacity and have informed much of this project.
The main components of the project were:
• Kit-making circles in which women came together and constructed safer crack use kits
• Kit distribution in which outreach teams distributed safer crack use kits and engaged in a harm reduction discussion with those receiving these kits.
We evaluated the project using a variety of techniques, including:
• Pre- and post-distribution surveys
• Qualitative interviews with kit recipients
• Qualitative interviews with those involved in kit distribution
• Field notes taken during kit-making circles
• Tally sheets recording the number of kits distributed
Drawing on work done in Toronto, the Safer Crack Use Coalition’s goals included education and advocacy, the distribution of mouthpieces, and the eventual production of safer crack use kits. A key goal was to actively involve people who use crack in the development of all activities. In 2005, the Coalition was facing a lack of funds. In partnership with researchers at UBC, funding was received through the Health Canada Drug Strategy Community Initiatives Fund and the SCORE project was established.
The SCORE project is by no means the first safer crack use initiative in Canada. In Toronto, the Safer Crack Use Coalition pioneered the distribution of safer crack use kits. Ottawa had a program that was cancelled by Ottawa City Council in July 2007 because of the belief that the program condoned or encouraged drug use. Winnipeg has a program that was developed in 2004; it is now overseen by the public health department. Other small programs have existed in BC in Nanaimo, Prince George and on the Sunshine Coast.